President Trump’s pardon of convicted mass murderers adds insult to injury for the people of Iraq, who lost hundreds of thousands of their loved ones as a result of the unjust and illegal U.S. war and occupation. Pardoning war criminals also adds insult to injury for the U.S. veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who carry the trauma of having witnessed atrocities against innocent civilians.
“Soldiers have the right and the responsibility to refuse illegal orders to kill innocent civilians or to participate in illegal and unnecessary wars.”
There are “rules of engagement” that soldiers are supposed to follow to avoid committing war crimes. But these rules are frequently disregarded when soldiers are asked to fight unwinnable wars against entire populations. Young soldiers with lethal weapons are overcome by fear, vengeance, racism, and hatred, and they know that there will be no price to pay for murder.
When of a few mercenaries—”soldiers of fortune”—were finally held accountable for their unforgivable crimes in Iraq, they are now pardoned by the president, who is Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military. This sends the wrong message and must be rejected. Soldiers have the right and the responsibility to refuse illegal orders to kill innocent civilians or to participate in illegal and unnecessary wars.
Veterans For Peace continues to call for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops and mercenaries from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and all of the Middle East and Africa. We call on President Trump to pardon real heroes like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden, and much-loved political prisoners like Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu Jamal. Such pardons would help to heal the wounds of war. President Trump’s pardons do just the opposite.
This post was originally published on Radio Free.